Erica Johnson is a single mother with a daughter and an outstanding digital designer and content creator. Setting up for success wasn’t easy. However, it proved to be worth it, and she has now built a successful career for herself doing something she loves.
From this Episode, You Will Learn
- Career shifting from Marketing to creating content for a self-owned business
- How Erica taught herself principles of design and set herself up for success in content creation
- Setting up for success can be a very slow and steady process
- Time blocks and how they benefit your life as a business owner and mother
Career shifting from Marketing to creating content for a self-owned business.
Career shifting can be so intimidating, but there is nothing better than settling for what you love! Erica followed her heart to design and after doing small work for other companies, she realized she could make this her full-time job.
How Erica taught herself principles of design and set herself up for success in content creation
Erica set out to learn design-something she wanted to do for a long time. The design had been at the forefront of her mind for so long, so through YouTube, practice, and self-teaching, she was able to become proficient in professional design.
Setting up for success can be a very slow and steady process
Many times businesses don’t go from six months to six figures. Erica was able to learn great patience while working hard to build her business. As a single mother raising her daughter, it wasn’t easy. Things were at a good point when 2020 began. However, when the pandemic hit things became rocky and she thought she would lose her clients. Through hard work and miracles, she gained two amazing retainer clients
Time blocks and how they benefit your life as a business owner and mother
Erica discusses the importance of time blocking and how crucial it can be in the life of a mother and entrepreneur. She also shares what to do when clients don’t respect that. It is important to set boundaries.
Episode Resources and Links:
CAMILLE WALKER [0:02]
Coming up with ideas for strategy and content creation can be overwhelming and hard. Today, we're talking to Erica Johnson, the founder of E-Partners Marketing, who has helped hundreds of women create and design businesses that they love and have thrived through systems of content creation. But we're also going to hear about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, being a single mother and pushing through even the darkest of times. During COVID, she thought her business was going to be over that she'd have to go back to the 9 to 5 workforce and somehow with a lot of grit and a lot of faith, she was able to push through and we are going to dive into her story right now. Grab a pen and paper. We're sharing resources of what can help maximize your time and I know you're going to love all of the tools that she shares. Let's dive in.
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business, sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Welcome back everyone. Today, we are talking about creating content in a pinch and I’m so excited because our guest today, Erica Johnson, is the founder of E-Partners Marketing and she is a content guru and is going to share all of her tips and tricks with us, but also tell us about her journey of how she started this business and the passion that she found in helping others create their vision in creating content.
Thank you so much for being here today, Erica.
ERICA JOHNSON [1:44]
Thank you so much for having me, Camille.
So, tell us about you. I want to hear about your family, your background. I know that you're a lover of fashion and how that morphed into what you're doing now.
Sure. So, in my family I have me and my daughter, Isabella. I also have my fiancée. I was raised in a very entrepreneurial family. My mom is an entrepreneur. My father is an entrepreneur. My older brother is an entrepreneur. My younger brother, even though he's still a child, he is an entrepreneur. His mom is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship has been a huge part of our life. I'm thinking even my mom's parents, they were entrepreneurs. So, yeah, it's kind of like a hereditary thing.
But entrepreneurship wasn't always my goal. I really wanted to work in fashion, as you mentioned, and I wanted to be a fashion buyer. I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I listened to my parents. I went to business school. I never went to fashion school, but while I was in college, I did go to or worked at quite a few different retail stores. Notably Express and Nordstrom were the last two places that I worked.
I had an internship with Nordstrom. I was trying to become a buyer. So, it was out in South Florida and I loved every second of it, but it was a management conflict. That seller decided to stay out of the company. But after that, I realized, "No. Retail at this level just wasn’t for me." They were working long hours. They were working 12-hour shifts and, in my mind, I was like, "Okay. We're selling suits. We're not delivering babies. There's no reason for me to be on a sales floor that long."
So, that's when I walked away from fashion retail, never looked back. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I've never wanted to have my own boutique or anything, but it was just like that experience, I just decided to walk away from it. And then, coming back to how I started my own business. So, I studied marketing in school. I finished my degree after my internship. Then, I worked at an ad agency, but it was based on a newspaper that was going digital. So, that was a new experience because they were all embracing digital marketing and me, being fresh out of college, they thought they knew everything. I tried to go with my ideas and kind of butted heads a little bit.
But in my next job, they were so about digital marketing. They didn't care about print. They didn't care about magazine ads or newspapers ads or anything like that or even TV commercials. So, that gave me a lot of experience with digital ads. Then, I've worked at a smaller agency than that, way smaller than that one, but again, it was digital marketing.
I started my own business shortly after because I realized at those gigs, I was always managing the ads. I was always managing the campaigns and, especially at the second job in digital marketing, the clients would say, "Oh. Can you be my social media manager? Oh. Can you help me outside of this?" Because the big company I was working for, they didn't like how they were being treated. They didn't like being on queues forever. So, that's why I realized, "Okay. People really need this. Entrepreneurs really need this. They really need that help."
But then, that last gig where I was managing Facebook ads and Google ads, I realized I hate looking at these reports. I just hated it. I think when people hear marketing school, they hear the term analyst and they think, I want to be an analyst. I want to be an account manager. But then, when they're actually an analyst or an account manager, it sucks. That's what happened. I hated it. I hated calling customers and telling them about how many other ads, the KPIs on their ads, I hated it. I hated it so much.
So, I always wanted to design, even from that first job I had at college. I remember the graphic designer that got to make all the ads pretty in the newspaper and placed the newspaper before it got printed. I wanted to learn so bad, but I didn't know where to start. I was intimidated by Photoshop. I was intimated by Illustrator and InDesign and I had no clue where to start.
But when I left that big agency, one of the reasons why I knew design could be for me was we had one campaign where we were supposed to have a landing page for the Facebook ad and the ad created and the text and all that good stuff. The designer that was on the team. It was a very small, but mighty team and he was too busy. They were like, "Oh. Erica. Can you just do it?" Me as a designer. I was like, "The ad lady doing the design? That never happens." So, that's my experience and that's why I realized, "Okay. I love this. I love making the website. I love making the ad creative. I love making the copy."
At the previous job before that, I actually did get experience helping people with small website changes. Outside of work, I had my own blog, my own mommy blog. And then, I started blogging about what I was doing at work. So, that's how I really got into design. I self-taught design. Nothing wrong. There was a lot of good tutorials along the way for YouTube University. I love trial and error. But yeah, I basically self-taught, not formally taught design at all.
Then, when I started my agency, more people asked me about design than asked me about marketing. More people want the marketing than the design, but I still do both. Then, I brought a PR girl on as a publicist. Her name's Aniah. She's great. I brought her on 2019 because my customers started asking about PR. They didn't just want marketing. They didn't just want design. They wanted public relations as well. So, she's the publicist on my team. Since then, I also know another lady that's also a publicist. Her name is Gabi. So, Gabi specializes as the written publications like articles and news covers that's written. Whereas, Aniah does more a bit activation. Now, Aniah can also pitch you and she could get you prepared for media covers. That's her strong points when it comes to PR. I'm good at getting people on podcast. They're not. But yeah, they're the two official publicists. They both studied PR. I have a PR certification but they both actually studied in school and had years of experience. So, that's my business.
With my daughter, she's seven years old and that was one reason why I had to leave those two corporate environments. They weren't very flexible with my schedule as a mother even though some of my superiors were mothers as well. Some of them were single moms like I am. They were not understanding. That's what corporate does to people. I'm not saying that all mothers can't survive in corporate because we know plenty of women that are successful in corporate. But for me, for my lifestyle and at the time, it just wasn't for me.
That's really fascinating. So, tell me about that transition where you started your own business with the design and marketing. It sounds like it kind of happened by accident that you realized it wasn't so much numbers for you, it was more the design process and really that creative sector. So, how long was that of transitioning into that role? Was it that you thought, "Man, this is my purpose. This is where I feel this is my wheelhouse?"
Yeah. Destiny kind of taught it to me. God and destiny. They hit me with a brain drain. That job at the really big agency came to an end when me and my manager just came to an impasse, which is fine. They said tardiness. I know it wasn't just tardiness. The lady just didn't like me. It was funny because after I got let go, a few months later, she got let go, but in a more elaborate way than I did. I know a lot of people that I was on the team with, unfortunately, they got let go as well. But I know it's cliché when people say, "Oh, well, that's never happened." But it really was.
I just was not happy. I felt like I was driving to jail every day. I was dropping my daughter off at day care, not feeling it. I admit, even when I did entrepreneurship for those two months before I got the other gig, actually it wasn't even a few months, maybe a good month. So, I tried to do it on my own but I found an agency and worked underneath them for a short time as well because when I did that whole project with the landing page and the copy and all that, I guess they could sense also that she's not really into the ads. So, it was cool.
I know at the time, back in 2016, I could have been devastated but it all worked out for the better good. There was one stint with my parents in which I was a brick-and-mortar teacher and that was between 2017-2018. So, I wanted to share this story, this candid story to share with your audience that it wasn't a smooth road for me in entrepreneurship. It was definitely this. It was very slow like a tortoise where I wasn't like a rabbit. I wasn't one of those six months to six figures stories. I wasn't one of those one year and a six figure stories. Nothing wrong with those stories, those are great. It's just that that wasn't my story. My story was definitely slow and steady.
My first few years in entrepreneurship was like a long vacation except when I was a brick-and-mortar teacher. That also taught me about, "Okay. Can I do this?" The answer is no. I did it for the entire year, the entire school year, every single day. I never missed a day but it was like, "Okay. This is just not for me." The children were great. It was four different grade levels and the children had some behavioral issues and me being a first-time teacher wasn't really equipped. But I also taught with VIPKid as well, so the kids in China.
But coming back to your question, the transition. It was definitely a bumpy one. So, the first time around, it was like a long vacation. I can go out to eat. I can have lunch with my friends. I can take a nap whenever I want to. But after teaching at the brick-and-mortar that one year, I had to really sit myself down and say, "Okay. I don't want to go back to another job. I don't want to go back to being a teacher. I don't want to get my certification where I lived to be a public-school teacher", which I could have done. But it was like, "I don't want to. Okay. I had a very pivotal decision. Am I going to get serious about promoting my business or am I going to go apply for jobs?"
And I made the decision to get serious about my business and it's been better ever since. 2018 winter was good. 2019 was great. 2020, believe it or not, with the pandemic in March, I thought I had to close my doors. I was convinced that everyone's going to do their own social media. No one's going to want PR. So, yeah, those first three months were rough for me. I started applying everywhere. I had my home girl/client write a review for me on LinkedIn. I wrote a review for her. We were sending out our resumes everywhere because we have to get jobs, whatever.
But then, a client came into my life. It was funny because I had actually known her before. So, a retainer client came into my life, and then, a few months after that, she introduced me to another one of my retainer clients that I have now. So, they were pivotal to me bouncing back. It gave me that confidence that, "Okay. What I do is good and people do want this."
Don't get me wrong. When the pandemic first happened, I never had a doubt that people wouldn't want design because people always want website design, but it was that social media marketing PR piece. We had a lot of deals, Camille, that were held up in PR pieces where if they didn't have a live event, there was no publicity for the event. There was no need to promote the event. So, we lost a lot of money, but we made a lot of money too. So, that's what I would say. It definitely gave me that push to bounce back.
The whole time I was a brick-and-mortar teacher and a VIPkid teacher, I still had a la carte design. I still designed websites. So, that was crazy. 2017 to 2018 was a crazy time but I felt like it taught me, "Okay. What is my real limit?" I think a lot of times as entrepreneurs, we think, "Oh. We can only work this much." And we think that's our limit. But really our limit is this much more. Not that you want to push yourself like that because I believe in self-care. I believe in boundaries. I believe in all that. But yeah, that's what I wanted to say. That was the transition for me. It was a bumpy one. I got hit with reality. When you're your own business owner, you have to have a routine. You have to have a schedule. It's not just going out to eat and visiting with your friends. You really have to be serious. Business is very serious.
Yeah. It sounds like that is a transition that everyone needs to go through is really taking their business seriously and transitioning into that. So, that leads me perfectly into the next question is what are the systems and routines that you were able to establish that allowed you to maximize your time?
I love this question. One routine that was vital was the morning routine. I know that's so cliché. If you go on YouTube and Pinterest, everyone has their morning routine. But finding the morning routine that worked for me was pivotal. I admit I don't always stick to it, but when I do it makes a difference. My day is so much better.
So, affirmations, prayers, super important. I don't really meditate and do yoga. I want to. I just don't. Working out is pivotal, 15-30 minutes. If I can't get 15 minutes, 5-10 minutes or just dancing is cool. I've tried to do it. It doesn't happen every day. I'm human. But another good habit was brain dumping. Brain dumping because as entrepreneurs, we have so many ideas. I have so many ideas. So, I have to buy more journals, having a lot of different little journals. I have big ones, small ones, having them so I could just write down.
I don't even really do to-do lists. I'm one of the rare Virgos that doesn't do a to-do list because I know Virgos are notorious for being super organized, controlling and how they make to-do lists. I don't like to-do lists. I just like being able to brain dump and bullet journal. I do plan as well. Planning did make a difference in my business as well. I don't plan as much as I should but I do it digitally too. I do like digital planning. So, that's the routines that have made a difference for me.
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So, what is it that you use as far as do you time block? When you actually get down on to your working hours, what does that look like for your site designing and also your marketing?
Yes. I try to time block. It doesn't always work out. I have a whole chunk or times you're not supposed to contact me because my child is in school. With her being home with me, she's only in first grade. So, I have to go over and make sure she's on task. I have to make sure of the workbooks. I have to make sure she's looking at the teacher and she's interacting with the kids and the teacher because it's all virtual.
So, I try my best to time block but some clients don't respect it or just ignore it and I have to set those boundaries. But I try my best to time block. I want this to look like where a certain day of the week, I can do a certain thing like one day, design, one day, content creation. Sundays used to be my content planning and content creation day. I know you were asking me in another question before. So, that's what I used to do. Sorry, I'm looking at it like there's seven days a week and Sundays over here and Saturdays over there. But anyways, yeah, that's what I used to do.
Then, I learned from other gurus who's like if you plan the content on Thursday and Friday for the following, it's better. I was like, "Hmm." And I tried it a few times and, on my calendar, I do have Friday blocked off where people aren't supposed to be able to do consultations and I did actually pick when it comes to the consultations for my clients. It's supposed to be Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Same thing with my podcast recording. For my podcast, I like it to be Tuesdays or Wednesdays. But for other people's podcasts, I'll go on a Friday or a Monday or a Thursday. But for my podcast, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that way I can give them my full attention and it's not so back-to-back with meetings with clients.
Oh, that sounds really good. I've found that too, if I set up specific hours for my own creation that I can count on, it helps a lot. One tool that I would love to use is Calendly because then I can set up my own availability and send that to other people, so you really save time with the back and forth. That seems like that helps a lot. Now, your specialty that you talk about on your podcast is actual content creation. I know that we have many business owners, content creators, who are listening to this podcast right now. What are some time-saving hacks or tools that you use to help you create awesome content?
That's an amazing question. I love, love, love Canva and with a Pro account, you can resize posts. So, if you make a really cute post for Instagram or you have a video for Instagram, the feed, we can resize it for Instagram stories, which can save you a lot of time. Also, you can resize it for Pinterest, which saves you a lot of time. You can bulk create all your pins, bulk create all your Instagram posts for the month, bulk create all of your stories for the month even.
The cool thing about Canva is it's not just pictures and text posts. I think a lot of people don't know about the video capabilities but it does have that. So, that's a good thing for people out there who don't want to fiddle with different editing software for video. They can take their snippets just like Gary Vee. and Grant Cordone or anyone like that or even Jasmine Star or Sunny Lenarduzzi, whatever her last name is or Jenna Kutcher. I'm just namedropping at this point but they have on their team, those people do it for them.
But if you're just starting out or if you are looking and scaling and you're like, "Well, what does the VA need to do? What does the social media manager need to be able to do?" Definitely make sure that they have Canva or Photoshop or Illustrator skills and make sure that they can video edit because video is huge. But yeah, the tools to save time would be along with batching the content, batch creating it, batch editing videos, batch recording videos, the scheduling software that I love to use.
I actually have a blog posting. I don't like Hootsuite, but there's some clients that do use Hootsuite. So, Hootsuite's back on my good side. I like Tailwind for Pinterest. I like SmarterQueue as a good all in one. HubSpot's cool but I've never used it personally. I've done their trainings before but I've never actually used their CRM or their scheduling software. Another one is Buffer for Instagram and Twitter and all that. And then another one, Planoly is really popular for Instagram. So, any of those software where you can schedule it where you don't have to post in real-time is good. That way, it's done.
You pick the day of the week or the day of the month and you really sit down with a Google Doc or something and you say, "What is the one thing I want to talk about?" And then, break it up into bite-sized pieces. It's something I learned from Karima but I've been doing it for my clients too. Karima's on Clubhouse too. She's the owner of Dreamworth & Co. That's something she preaches. You take one concept and you break it down into bite-sized pieces.
For my audience, I really like to think of one theme of the week. What's that one topic you want to cover? Make the videos and the posts and the cute little stories that go with it in the pins and all that and the blog posts too each week. It doesn't have to be a completely new concept each week. It can have an overall theme for the month, but then each week, you're just going make the content around that step or part of the process or showing your projects, whatever. Let's say, it's a product launch like an example, a fashion brand, a new brand. Maybe, week one would be all the tops. Maybe, week two would be the dresses. Maybe, week three would be the accessories. Then, it all comes together in the end and say, "Oh, well these are the different looks and the look books and different ways to style it and the users generating content, stuff like that."
Yeah, that's fair. I like that idea doing an overarching theme for the month, and then doing them each week by week. Do you have an annual calendar that you work with or do you start fresh each month?
Oh, that's a good one. For myself, it's a little both because I've been doing this off and on for five years for myself, I kind of know how my customer works. I know for what season their mindset's in, so then I really tap into that. I can actually plan for a quarter, so that's what I really do. A quarter at a time.
For my clients, it's new each month where we have an overall theme for the month and then each week, we're just getting the customer further to the goal we want, which is dollars and cents, email sign ups, DMs, emails, those sorts of things. Likes and follows are great but with my clients, we're focused on, "Okay. How do we get them closer to doing what we want them to do?" I love what you mentioned earlier about Calendly. I do have some customers that use Calendly. I use Acuity. Nothing on Calendly. I love it, but I use Acuity.
Okay. Cool. So, talking about getting people to the dollar and cents. I think, at the end of the day, that's what we all want because it doesn't really matter how many followers or how many likes you have, it really comes down to selling your product or service or gathering up those email lists, so you can use that for marketing as well. What are some tips and tools that you've used to be able to create that transaction of dollars and cents rather than just the engagement?
I love that. So, one thing I like to do is actually putting a call to action saying in my posts that I want them to actually book a consultation. If I'm showing a website design post and a little square on Instagram. on the bottom, I will say a little bit about the project and then, "Do you need help?" with a consultation, and I kind of say, "Click the link in my bio to book a consultation." Or I'll say, "To learn more, send me a DM."
I found that by doing that, it does generate more questions. It does generate more interaction and connection and especially with a purchase that their website design, they do want to get to know you a little bit more. It might take a few DMs over a series of time, maybe a week, about a month, DM-ing back and forth. Then, they book a consultation.
Then, during the consultation, my consultations usually years ago used to be an hour long. Now, they're only fifteen- and thirty-minute slots because I realized the questions I can get answered during that time are pretty vital to if we were going to be a good fit for each other. If it is a good fit, we move on to the next step, which would be a more in-depth consultation depending on them. I've had some times where in the fifteen-minute consultation, they sign up for a website design like that.
So, yeah, it just depends on the client, how ready they are, but with our content, that's what we're doing. We're getting them ready to work with us or to potentially work with us. We're getting them that information to decide on their own who is right for them.
Yeah. That's really interesting. I heard something recently from Brock Johnson who was saying that actual sales that you create should be happening in your DMs, not in your feed or not necessarily with the content you're creating. It's more about establishing that relationship. So, I think that that is so true. That it's really tapping into that person one on one and making that connection where they know and trust you and are willing to make that next step.
I think that definitely ties in also to the other tool that I like to use for that connection off of the feed or off of the DM is Flodesk. I love it for my lead magnet delivery, my funnel, just email blast or newsletter. I know newsletter's such an old term. Flodesk really makes it easy. It's free to set up the workflow and to segment your audience and I can tell exactly where they came from based on what I title the segment and which freebie I put where. That helps a lot too to know are they coming from Instagram? Are they coming from Pinterest? Are they coming from my website? That way, I can focus more on that.
But I would say also the email marketing does as well, especially if you're consistent. It's okay if you don't hear back from people. I've sent plenty of emails where it was crickets. You're like, "I saw that there's hundreds of people. I saw it. Nobody said anything?" But it's funny because every few emails you will hear someone say something and if it's a past customer on your list, they'll contact you for something else. It's funny how that works.
I think that's an interesting concept because I think a lot of times, we get those emails in even as a customer ourselves and think, "Oh. Well, it kind of feels like a one-way conversation." Unless they know you personally through other interactions and then it can be this return customer. Like you said, it's keeping you top of mind and the experience they had with you. So, that's a really good point about keeping that engagement there consistently.
Yeah. This year, my goal was to really get more consistent with the email marketing. I think 2020, I might have sent one, maybe two, a month if I was feeling greatest. But this year, I've started trying to get one a week. I have one client that I actually do one a day for her, so yeah.
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So, in your services, you're offering website design. Does that mean you're actually doing the back-end work too where it's like getting that all ready for launch and then you're doing funnels, email marketing and product marketing? Are you doing all of those pieces? Wow, that's amazing.
Yes. It depends on the client and what we have. Not for all clients. I have to admit that. For a lot of them, if they do give the website, I will help them set up their first emails and Flodesk if they're new to that software. That's the one I always recommend for them because it integrates with Shopify. I don’t know if it integrates with WordPress just yet. I know it doesn't integrate with Squarespace directly just yet, but it's super easy to use. It can make it pretty instead of with Mailchimp, having to use Canva to make it pretty. Don't get me wrong. Mailchimp's come a long way since Flodesk showed up, but Mailchimp's still kind of behind.
So, for the all in one, for the customer that wants something that's easy to use, beautiful to look at and can give them a high open rate, Flodesk is good to go and super affordable. Nineteen dollars a month. No matter how many email subscribes you have. You can have thousands on your list, it's still going to be nineteen dollars a month.
So, yeah, I help them get it set up, but if they're actually a retainer client like a marketing retainer client, depending again on their package, they might get that. For example, one of my retainer clients, she gets for her different courses will access a different lead magnet and a different funnel. And then like you said, the different emails that go out and we're making sure, "Okay. Is it going with what we're posting on social media? Does it make sense?"
That sounds like such a time saver for brain power. That's something I think everyone needs is that help and I also love Flodesk. I'll link to that in the Show Notes below because it is so affordable and the format is so beautiful. It really has a very minimalistic kind of beautiful vibe about it. I really like it. So, that's really awesome.
I have just been so inspired by you and that you've been able to persevere and push through as a single mom and still create the life of your dreams, really chasing after it. You have so much wealth of knowledge as an entrepreneur and coming from so many entrepreneurs in your life. What is your advice for those who are listening and are looking for inspiration to keep going and really keep seeking after that something?
Sure. I think one of my best tips would be to start. Just start. It's going to be messy. It's going to be hard. It's going to be nerve wracking. It's going to feel weird. It's going to make you nervous. It's going to be butterflies, but just start. I set up my business, didn't have a launch, didn't tell my family and friends. It was very passive. I just put it on Facebook one day. I was like, "Oh, do you need a website? Do you need a logo?"
I actually had someone I met on Twitter through another friend, he actually introduced me to my first logo design client, and then after that, I had a website design client that came from Facebook. Then, he recommended me to another website design client. Then, she recommended me to another website design client. Then, the rest is history.
But, yeah, I just had to start. Even before I actually had the agency, I had the blog first. So, people that see the passion behind my interest in social media, my interest in design. But yeah, at first, it was more social media. Then, later on I added in my tips about design, but it was mostly just social media. Instagram tips and Facebook tips, not really Twitter. Twitter wasn't really my jam. YouTube, meh. Pinterest, yeah, a lot of Pinterest tips or tutorials or walkthroughs, teaching them about alt text, teaching them about SEO on the blog. That's my business blog. Really, I started the business blog 2015. I started the agency 2016.
So, that's a tip that I would give people too. Don't be afraid to start the blog first. It's okay if you don't have that much experience. You can get experience along the way. I'm thinking about now, sometimes in my memory, I'd be like, "I didn’t do any free work." But yes, I did. I did a little bit of free work, not too much, just a little bit. My very first two clients, one was a realtor, one was a guy that did text marketing and they were generous enough to let me do their social media management and also to build them a website and to also do their logos. I'm grateful for that.
Because like I said, when you're in it all day, you forget where you started from. Then, also when it comes to the YouTube branding for my Etsy shop, where I do offer a la carte bespoke design, custom designs and some Canva templates too, but it's mostly custom designs people come there for their YouTube channel. I forget that my first YouTube banners were free. I went to Reddit. I knew that there was a lot of YouTubers on Reddit and I said, "Hey. Do you want a YouTube banner? The first five people, I'll make a YouTube banner." Because I wanted to see, "Can I even do it? Do I even like it?" Because it was something I thought about. Because in my mind, I was like, "If I can make a website, I can make YouTube branding." It was a no-brainer, but I just wanted to test out the concept and five people did sign up.
Some of the banners were really simple, just a simple name and colored background, and then this one for a gamer was so involved, so much photo editing. I had him tell me all his different video games, his favorite video games, and I found the characters from them and made him this beautiful banner and he left me a review on Facebook. I always forget about that. Like I said, they don't have to do a million projects for free. They don't even have to do two. They can just find one client to get experience or a family or friend, I should say, to get experience and then make their portfolio, share their prices.
Another tip I would share since I'm on your show, especially with the busy mommies out there listening, I would say, don't be afraid to charge high starting out. What I've learned the hard way is it's harder to raise your price than it is to lower your price. It's something I knew from Nordstrom. They teach us to offer the highest price item first, so that people when you show them something less, they think they're losing something. It's funny how in my own business, it was opposite, but yeah, that's what I would say. Don't be afraid to charge very good prices from the beginning, even if you have little experience. That's something I've learned recently that I wish I knew five years ago.
That's really good advice. I think a lot of times, there's perceived value that happens even with that exchange of money where people are committing to that and they think, "Oh. This girl is serious and she's taking herself seriously." So, I think it's that fear of just asking. Once you get past that, the sky's the limit. It's just really so much potential is available.
Exactly. I agree.
Well, it has been so inspiring to talk with you today and as someone who is very much in the middle of content creation all of the time, I want to hire you, just listening to everything you do. That's incredible. So, just one more piece of a nugget of wisdom that you'd like to share. As a single mom, what is one way that you've been able to create a positive relationship of creating your own business in relationship with your daughter? Because I know that you said that she's like your little assistant and she's very much a part of it and is proud of you with that. So, what has that been like for you as a mom?
Oh, that's such a great question. In the very beginning, I started my busines out of my mom's dining room basically. Her dining room and Starbucks. I went to move back home with my mom to save for a house. Everything started when I went back home. Anyway, so, I was there for two years and my daughter was with me. I remember those first few days when I had been talking to a client because, remember, I told you it was like I was on vacation, so I had her with me a lot. She came with me a lot.
She never met those first few clients. No, I take that back. She did meet the logo client because they were an ice cream shop so she came in when the deal was done and she tried their ice cream, but she never met the two logo clients or the clients after that, but she was little, so she was there with me a lot. She wasn't even three years old back then. So, she was there with me a lot and they saw her on video and stuff like that and they'd always ask about her because she was so little at the time, kind of like a baby still.
So, I was very fortunate to have my mom as that support system that she was willing to watch the baby while I went to meetings. She was able to watch the baby when I was trying to finish a website. A lot of late nights, I will say that. Back then, I was definitely a night owl where I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning designing. Now, these days, no, not going to do it. I give myself sleep. Unless there's a tight deadline, but that's another story for another day. But yeah, that's how I had to balance.
Now, with the time blocking, I try to have my weekends with her. I try to unplug when it comes to meal times in my house. No phones. No TV. No computer. No iPad, which was hard for us sometimes to remember, but I get that quality time with her. Even though she's in virtual school, I'm in my former living room now, which is an office. But then, my dining room is across the way and I can see what she's doing. I can hear the teacher. There's been plenty of times especially when she started virtual school where I would have my computer here and her computer there and we were side by side. So, I was designing or answering emails and looking over at her. I felt like I went to first grade again too. That's how I balance the motherhood and business.
And then, also, there's plenty of times like I had a YouTube branding project early today for a little girl's YouTube channel. Sisters, one, two and a half, one, six and I asked them, I said, "What do you think?" She said, "I like it." I said, "Do you want one?" And she said, "Yeah." And I said, "Well, do you want to cartoon like theirs?" She said, "Nah." I said, "Why not?" One of her favorite YouTubers is a girl named Tiana that's over at the U.K. and I said, "Well, Tiana has a cartoon." And she said, "No. I don't want a cartoon." She's like, "Tiana's different. She has four channels." I was like, "Okay, Bella." Yeah. Bella definitely does give her two cents and she makes a lot of guest appearances on my TikTok, my Instagram. Bella's very much a part of my business. Very much.
Wow, that's awesome. Well, it's been so much fun talking with you today. Thank you for sharing your time and all your wisdom with us. Please let the audience know where they can connect with you online.
Yes. So, you can find me on Instagram @epartnersmarketing. My podcast is The Content Cure.co on Apple, Google, Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, all the platforms, so that's where you can connect with me and epartnersmarketing.com has my marketing design blog and that's where you can book a consultation. Thank you so much, Camille. I really enjoyed this time.
Oh, awesome. It's been so great to have you. Thank you.
Thank you. Bye, bye.
Thank you so much for tuning in to today's episode of Call Me CEO. If you found it helpful or inspiring, I would love it if you shared it with a friend and also, I would love it if you came and joined me on Instagram @callmeceopodcast where you can join other likeminded mommas like you who are looking to step up in their lives and make it even better. Thank you so much and I will see you next week.
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